Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Towards an Anti-Canonical Not-Warhammer 40k: Blood Floats In Space

Blood Floats in Space is a great Mothership supplement that imagines a beauty-obsessed space authority and its vassals, the Empire Without Borders Or Competition. Ruled with martial law, social classes are determined by beauty, systems with aesthetic flaws are destroyed and harvested for their base parts. The zine adds in two new classes - an armor entombed warrior and a ticking time bomb of a psyker. 


art by ArielP
The armor warrior can straight-up replace the Marine class, which is cool - all off-brand Astartes and no Imperial Guard with their flashlights, I say. The Psyker class freakin can melt its own face off if it successfully uses its powers a lot, much less if it fails psychic cast rolls. That's perfect. Psychic powers are like lighting a stick of dynamite with your brain, the zine informs us, and this class' characters are going to screw that up and some point.

Horrible star gods are detailed, which are worshiped by people in the empire. There are a small number of new gear-bits, a great number of psychic powers with amazing names ('For Every Psychic That Dies To Their Own Folly, Another Dies In A Psionic Duel'), Psychic Catastrophes ranging from merely gross to rolling a new character, a character sheet, d100 amazing rumors and d100 Empire-specific trinkets for your PCs.

The Gods are great and terrible. Each has a paragraph about their history/domain, a d6 table of manifestations that could wreck the players' day (or provide adventure fodder), and a final paragraph about their terrible human worshipers.

The Empire is ruled by the Empress, who was a popular musician before fusion with an alien lifeform and becoming an immortal floating space brain which commands the decaying remains of the delightfully-named Empire Without Borders Or Competition. 

I think there are a few things I'd love to add - the zine has some real fruitful voids where I want more stuff but I'm sure what I want is different than someone else. I feel like Mothership characters should get some Beauty stat for dealing with people in the Empire, and that maybe characters with a higher starting Beauty stat have some kind of Noble 'class' that they can unlock. A Noble would be good at, I dunno, dueling and evaluating poison in food. And that's about it. They're pretty (by Empire standards) and pretty useless. 

Maybe there should be mutation - just use A Pound of Flesh! But it should reduce your beauty stat? Because the Empire hates mutants because Empires are actually dumb. 

The PCs are sent on tasks that will likely gain mutations and have to hide them, Nobles are foppish and like the opposite of Teamsters, psykers are as useful and dangerous as unstable explosives, the Gods sometimes manifest in benevolent ways but really aren't here for anyone but themselves. It's a cool zine with a great setting in it - both explicit and implicit.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

TROIKA BACKGROUNDS FROM THINGS IN MY OFFICE BACKGROUND

THAT'S RIGHT IT'S TIME FOR troika: THE BEST RPG OF ALL TIME.

These backgrounds are hot off the memetic cobweb receiver and guaranteed to `make destroy` all things. 

SAMPLE MONSTER / SAMPLING MONSTER

You were just a moth, once. You lived in a nice cave, free of bats thanks to the dragon. Those callous adventurers hurt her, made her flee into strange angles, and all that was left was her blood. You mourned her, you supped on her lifeblood, and learnt that you can absorb things from monsters. 

And everything is a monster.

Possessions: Large moth body, wings. You're big enough that a small person could ride on you.

Absorb 2
Absorbed Power 3
Fly 4
Astrology 3
Spell: Languages 2

Special: Roll Absorb against the monster's Skill to absorb whatever special ability it had. Use your Absorbed Power skill to use said power, if relevant. You can only have one at a time. You take on some aspect of the monster, you may use your Absorbed Power skill to heighten this aspect. Use of Absorbed Power may come at a Stamina cost. 

TOTAL RESISTANCE

Absolute power inspires rebellion. But only in a few. Your rebel cell was rolled up, captured, and you were denied sanctuary by others in the organization. You are in a unique position - are you still willing to fight the Autaurch, your old compatriots, both, neither? No one is sure. Either way, both sides consider you a loose end to be tied up.

Possessions: Poison capsule, lethal. Book of 1-time passphrases. Pistolet, 2 plasmic cores.

Pistolet Fighting 2
Secret Sign: Resistance 3
Awareness 1
Run 2
Spell: Coal Resolve 4

ICEHEARTED

You inhaled a spore of the anti-sun, and its cold has settled into your heart. It may eventually consume you and render you an icy golem of its will, but for now you can use its effects for your own ends.

Possessions: Ice-crystal sword, 

Golden Barge 2
Sword Fighting 1
Club Fighting 1
Spell: Hurricane (but with snow as well) 4

Special: Spend 1 Stamina per level of Ice Armor you'd like until your next rest. Ice Armor protects you from heat and cold completely. It also protects from damage. It can be created as a reaction, before damage is applied. Once you have spent 10 Stamina on Ice Armor, you become an Ice Golem. Hand your character sheet to the GM.

WEAPON EXPLAINER

There are many warriors. Yours is a different path. You explain the function and mechanism of weapons to plebians - sometimes to convince the masses to avoid troubling their betters, sometimes to convince the masses to spend their silver ducats on exotic weapons at the behest of monied interests. 

Blacksmithing 1
Clean Weapon 2
Etiquette 1
Evaluate 2
Metallurgy 2

Possessions
Weapon Cleaning Oil, 3 doses bottle
Rags
White Gloves
Crystalline Recorder / Projector - can project up to 500' and generate an image up to 150' square

Special: If you clean a weapon for an hour, it gets +1 to damage rolls for the first combat it's used in. Uses up 1 dose of weapon cleaning oil (which is about 46 sp a bottle). On a fumble you can't put the weapon back together and it needs to be repaired.

FORMER FARMER

You loved your life as a farmer until you found out it was a complete lie. The rest of the villagers set aside your plot and prepared a place for you to get you ready to be a human sacrifice to keep their crystal dome alive and well, and to satisfy their Blood God.

Possessions: 
Hungry Goat (Skill 7, Climb 4, Stamina 6, Small Beast Damage)
Shovel (2, 3, 3, 4, 6, 8)

Awareness 2
Plant-wise 3
Secret Sign: Blood God Cult 2
Run 2
Scythe 1
Shovel 1

Special: You can reroll the mein of any wild or farm animal, but must take the rerolled value.

Todo: 

CAPSULE COMMANDER

JAZZPUNK


FLOATING SKULL

PSYCHIC DRUMMER

Monday, February 17, 2020

Science Fighting Fantasy

Brian wrote some brilliant stuff about how to retroclone Fighting Fantasy. He has since expanded this into a Part 2  which I need to re-read again, but I came up with some ideas already. 

I wrote about Odd Light already, which has 1 'stat' called Skill. I figured for low Skill characters, you get to roll on a table and you get one more stat, based off what you are or your background. So a 4 Skill PC gets to be a Robot and has a ROBOT stat that they roll under to do robot-y things. I think you could roll 1d6 + 4 for Skill in Brian's FF hack, and have an Awesome Background stat that's 15 - Skill. So if you have a high Skill, you actually suck at your Awesome Background - you're the awesome soldier who has a 5 in Following Orders, or a swashbuckling rogue with a 5 in Con Artist. 

But then I figured you would just roll 1d6 + 4 for Skill, and low skill people just can cast spells or are radiation ghosts or are 2-meter-tall floating skull heads. You know, just, they can do some neat things without a roll at all, because their Skill is terrible. For a 5 or 6 Skill character, if you can cast spells you still roll 2d6 to see if you fumble, Troika style, but otherwise you just pay your Stamina fee. 

SKILL: Roll 1d6+4, consult the table below for your Background.
LUCK: Roll 1d6+6
STAMINA: Roll 2d6+12

BACKGROUND / SKILL MATRIX

10 SKILL: Soldier, Starbarian, Boarding Specialist, Escaped Convict, Space Paladin, Laser Sword Duelist, Semiferal Hypercat

9 SKILL: Ship's Gunner, Combat Medic, Pyromancer, Vat-Grown Hyperwarrior, Robotic Siege Soldier, Dog-bonded trooper

8 SKILL: Thief Entertainer Singer, Space Monk with mild Telekinesisperosis, Bounty Hunter, Conman Pilot Scoundrel, 2-fisted ex-cop

7 SKILL: Parkour Half Ghost, Electric Gnome Asteroid Miner, Spiderbot Scout Ambusher, Reflex-boosted Knife Juggler, Embodied Black Hole, Lava Person

6 SKILL: Angel Summoner, Space Wizardling, Rebuilt Warbot Botanist, Ultratrucker w/ Morphin' Fists, Telestrike cyborg mechanist

5 SKILL: Radiation Ghost, Psi Vampire Shadowform, Rewinder Sage, 2-meter flying stone head, Skeleton Astroneer Mystic, Nitrous-blooded race witch.

Now I just need to expand on all of these backgrounds such that the game can be easily played. Some low skill characters may have 1 or 2 UNCHANGING advanced skills, but most of them would just have a neat Special power or two.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Odd Light: Monsters Made Me Do This

Chris at Bastionland wrote Odd Lite back in the long-ago days of Google Plus, when the world was not on fire as obviously. Odd Lite is a lighter version of Into the Odd - something I figured would be impossible. In Odd Lite, you have hit points and one roll-under stat, SKILL. 

I freaking love the 4 example monsters in this tiny hack so much I thought of ways to make this a viable-er to me game. My only concern was, with one randomly-rolled stat, even in a system where you roll under it more as a saving throw than as a normal 'skill check,' someone with a really low SKILL will feel sad. 

I took a page out of the larger Into the Odd book(let), where low stats and HP let one get better starting gear / abilities, and figure if you have low skill you should be able to roll to get one more roll-under stat that describes your specialness. I know, going from 1 to 2 stats makes this about as crunchy as using all the GURPS splatbooks at once, but hear me out.

OTHER STAT = 21 - SKILL

Only roll on this table if you have a low SKILL! GMs, think of what that means before you run the game. (My table, 8 or lower.)


  1. Robot. Other stat is MIGHT, used for strength checks, absorbing physical damage. You must be repaired to fix MIGHT and SKILL. You don't eat, sleep, or breath. Each fist is a 1d6 weapon, together they are a 1d8 weapon.
  2. Thief. Other stat is THIEF, used for crime, sneaking, and related saves. Start with black cloak, thieves' tools, soft shoes, 3 daggers (1d6 damage).
  3. Acrobat. Other stat is ACRO. Roll under for parkour, falling. Fall damage is applied to ACRO. Out of ACRO, you cannot move. Start with a long pole (1d8 2-handed weapon), bright clothes, starter pistol (fires blanks).
  4. Prehistoric Dog. Other stat is DOG. Used for tracking, running, absorbing damage. You're about the size of a tiger. 1 armor (fur), bite does 1d8 damage, cannot hold things in your paws.
  5. Dirt Wizard. Other stat is DIRT. You can control up to a person's worth of dirt, DIRT is used if saving throws are needed for your dirt-homunculus, or to do very difficult things with dirt. You can see through the pile of dirt you control if you began controlling it when you touched it. 
  6. Forgotten God. Other stat is GOD. Used to turn undead / divine things not of you / demons. Also can check to heal others. Costs 2 GOD per entity turned or HP healed. 
  7. Deposed Royalty. Other stat is ROY. Used to command others, rally mercenaries / hirelings. Or garner respect if the people already, you know, like tyrants. (Keep in mind you were deposed for a reason.) Start with a 1d8 rapier (1 handed) that has a fancy, gold-plated hilt.
  8. Pyromancer. Other stat is FIRE. Can summon fire, up to 1d6 damage worth, basically the size of a campfire, or can extinguish the same amount. Can only have 1 fire summoned at a time. Burnt robes, 1 armor (scars, nerve damage).
  9. TK. Other stat, TK. Roll under to move something small as if by 1 hand, spend HP and ESP to move a larger object (human-sized, 3 points). Can deal structural damage if you spend 8 points from HP and/or the stat, but you have little control compared to normal telekinetic stuff.
  10. Water Mage. Other stat is WAT. Roll under to turn into a liquid or turn back, your equipment doesn't come with you. Start with a bucket you like to sleep in.

I'm super glad Bruno saved that G+ post.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Whiff Table: Something happens every round of combat

I'm thinking of running 0e DnD or Black Pudding's flavor of B/X, or Moldhammer, or Wolfbreaker. But I love combat systems from Into the Odd where there's no to-hit roll (and no missing) or Troika/Tunnel Goons/Macchiato Monsters where someone always gets hit. What to do? Write a whiff table! 

WHIFF


When two opposed combatants in melee both miss their attacks, roll on the whiff table.
  1. You knock each other's helms off. If anyone involved is not wearing a helm, they take 1d6 damage.
  2. You both fall down. 50% chance you're on top. You're at a range where punches, kicks, and daggers will work; larger melee weapons will not.
  3. You bind weapons and then push one another back. Their weapon lands at your feet; yours lands at theirs.
  4. Belt or backpack cut. Lose the top item in your inventory, as it is on the ground now.
  5. Lesser HD combatant knocked back into someone else on their side, who must save or be knocked down. 
  6. Environmental damage! Crack the ceiling, start a fire, destroy furniture, valuables, etc.
  7. Tooth loosened. You can spit it out in their face for a +4 to hit bonus next round, or try to keep it in place and get it fixed later (maybe?). No hp loss.
  8. Metal strikes stone. You and your opponent are bathed in sparks. Exposed paper or oil will begin to burn. Hair smolders.
  9. Opponent had an oil jar or gland that you just barely nick, but it splits open nevertheless. You, your opponent, and the ground are drenched in oil. 
  10. You just barely get an opening. If you swing with everything you have, embedding your weapon in your opponent, you can do so and roll damage with advantage, but you lose your weapon. Otherwise, normal miss.
  11. Their swing or thrust misses, but tosses sweat and grit in your eyes. Take -4 to AC until you spend a round wiping that out; your peripheral vision is .
  12. You clash weapons and it's incredibly loud. Roll for an additional encounter.
  13. You disarm them and their weapon sails behind them. If they have natural weapons they take 1d6 damage.
  14. Their weapon pins you in place. They lose it but you will have to struggle for 1d3 rounds to be able to move again. Can still fight.
  15. Ancient war-sigil mine stepped on, 1-3 by you, 4-6 by enemy. Spend next round levitating 10' in the air. Spells lowers you down gently (defective).
  16. Skyknife! Your weapon is knocked up into the ceiling and lodged there. It'll fall in 1d6 rounds. Anyone under it could be hit by it. (If no ceiling is available your weapon targets someone random closeby.)
  17. Ambient magical energy interacts with your intent to cause harm. You and your opponent glow like torches. -4 AC penalty to both of you for 1d6 rounds.
  18. You blink blood out of your eyes. You and your opponent are covered in blood and gore. Perhaps another attack drenched you both, perhaps some blood god is merely happy at your mishap.
  19. Their swing is about to cleave into your throat and you are suddenly in the Dead Realm. Any spirits or undead in the area are still present, otherwise it is empty, grey, cold, foggy. You can move about for 1 round and then you will re-appear wherever you moved to. Any valuable treasure or items are but dust in the Dead Realm, unless you brought them in yourself.
  20. Both of your weapons bind and break. If either of you were using magical weapons, said weapons can save against breakage. (Roll a 4 or more on a d6, adding the weapon's magical bonus.)
You could just roll a d6 against this table, or a d12 if you don't want random magical war-sigils to show up in your theatre of the mind, or random Dead Realm trips. 

Friday, November 8, 2019

Ghost Gang Random Tables for Esoteric Enterprises or whatever modern urban fantasy you got

In anticipation of Cavegirl's AWESOME Esoteric Enterprises coming out bigger and badder, here are my thoughts on Ghost Gangs. Because people die all the time, there's almost always a few ghosts in a rough collective, if not an outright organized body of the disembodied.

They're a fantastic organization to hire out freelancers, because they need a literal pair of hands (or 4) to lift up a priceless painting from one subterranean hidey-hole and carry it safely to theirs. 

(Also here's a link to the player's handbook for Esoteric Enterprises, with which one can create ghosts.)

From Wikipedia

WHAT DOES THIS GHOST GANG WANT ANYWAY


  1. Enchanted fresh food to actually eat. 
  2. Ancient vinyl pressing of ritual music.
  3. Large (4' x 6') oil painting, frame optional.
  4. Unenchanted stone idol.
  5. Large pile of enemy's wealth to be destroyed dramatically.
  6. DVDs and DVD player. Holy oil to anoint such that they can push the buttons.
  7. Hookah, brick of undergrown-cultivated herb. 
  8. Blessed salt to keep out uninvited spirits.
  9. Silver-coated sword that they can wield.
  10. Rune-carved zippo lighter shipment. They don't run out of fuel.
  11. Ectoplasm-filled jar, the remains of one of their own.
  12. Liber Noctis, a book of binding ghosts. A furnace to destroy it in.
  13. Soul trapper's scalp or forefinger.


WHO HAS IT WHO IS TERRIBLE


  1. A thief-lich (HD6) and her disciples.
  2. Null soul zone-dwelling scavengers. 
  3. Overly large cryptid.
  4. Nearby police precinct. 
  5. Bank vault, front for some undead businessfolk.
  6. Devotee of the Void and their flock.
  7. Rival ghost gang.
  8. Urban explorers, last seen diving the depths.


WHERE DO THEY HOLE UP


  1. Underground, an abandoned subway stop
  2. Aboveground, in an unknown safehouse
  3. Underground, beneath a small settlement of worshippers / traders
  4. Underground, in an automatic sewer processing system
  5. Underground, in an ancient building that was built over hundreds (?) of years ago but looks like it's from the 1980s
  6. Aboveground, a squat atop an abandoned (?) building


Oh yeah, obviously if you get a location or WHO HAS IT from the What they want table, don't bother rolling on the later tables unless you want.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Mothership AP: Kids Are Alright 2: Hellslide to the Sink

Players:
Ryan, Teamster, Pilot and Jack of Many Trades
'Doc' Krober, probably not a real doctor?, Scientist, Curiosity Fulfiller
Willow, Former Marine, current computer / hacker specialist
Ed, Mercenary-stat'd Android, (Combat: 38, Instinct: 45, Loyalty: 50, Revolver, 3 reload cylinders Flight Suit)

Getting to the Dream

So the niece/nephew/brother-in-law/android merc squad dock just outside Prospero's Dream, because their 93 Hull mining vessel will not fit in the dry dock. They lose some stress from getting back to civilization, and then the Q-Team pointing pulse rifles at them and hosing them down with disinfectant stresses them out again. They head through the dry docks, down a corridor towards the Stellar Burn to buy drinks, look for weapons, and offload their cargo.

Art from Tsutomu Nihei's Blame!

The Slide

My first encounter roll is a deadly one. I roll an 8. I ask them who's in front of the group. Ryan's up front, and fails a Body save. The group (I rule) has blundered into a section of walkway that irises open and they tumble down a chrome-slick peristalting gullet. Random chrome slide to the Sink! When they awaken they're on a plateau of broken concrete. In the distance they see what looks dimly like a waterfall, with a few flickering yellow lights on a precipice atop it. Above them, cold blue lights shine like distant uncaring stars. Cracked buildings lean drunkenly, and in the distance a series of vast pipes seems to writhe. (In retrospect I should've had them roll a fear save or panic check, but I was so flummoxed that I was just trying to give them some semi-viable choice of direction). They manage to find an old O2 bottle with 6 hours of breathe left to it. Taking stock, they march towards the waterfall. I roll an encounter and get 8 Hunglungs with spears (and quite low speed) waiting in ambush.

The Ambush

The PCs wind up in a canyon formed of two colossal buildings leaning against one another, an alley between them turned into a small steep ravine. It's quiet, they don't see anything moving. Willow asks if she can see anything with her IR goggles, and I tell her there are dim handprints on one of the empty window-panes.

 |        |
 |        |
 |_      _|
   \    /
    \  /
     \/


So at the base of the buildings there's a shelf of concrete about as wide as a sidewalk, then the ravine, which bottoms out in a narrow trail. Willow sees someone looking out at them, just a sliver of face, partially masked by concrete and some kind of blocky monocle. The figure darts away.

Willow's player smartly asks if her bioscanner will help, and whips it out. She notices 8 signatures spread out between the buildings. Willow wants to sneak up to the 'sidewalk' and listen in on the larger cluster. I tell her there's enough debris on the ground she needs an auditory distraction, and Ryan obliges by smacking his crowbar against the ground like a maniac. The sneaking marine touches one of the metal 'vines' growing all over the Sink, and it is warm to the touch, despite not showing up on IR (Sanity save!). 

Willow listens in; the Hunglungs seem to think they're clueless tourists. As they spring out to 'ambush' them, Willow has gotten behind the Hunglungs and surprises them, snatching a spear from one of them and hurling him down the ravine. Doc, Ryan and Ed are stressed to receive a charge of emaciated, tired Hunglungs with spears, but manage to down 3 of them in the scrum. 

The Loot

The rest of the Hunglungs opt to flee, and the PCs watch them go. The PCs manage to salvage 5 spears, 2 ancient hazardous environment suits that are relatively undamaged / patchable, a flare gun (3 flares) and the IR monocle. Doc and Willow have begun to feel feverish as ACMD takes hold. Willow and Ryan don the environment suits and the four keep moving towards the waterfall. 

Takeaways

I'm playing around with encumbrance rules Sean is playtesting. Characters can carry Strength / 10 items. Stacks of 3 stimpacks/magazines/grenades are 1 item slot. There's a wearing slot for armor or otherwise wearable items (flashlights, RAW, and short-range comms at my table) outside of the Str/10 limit, as are slots for your mitts. So there was more deliberation at the Dream and when looting the Hunglungs about what to take, which seems very apt to me. Drives home 'survival horror' and doesn't seem to slow things down overmuch.

Also I was not at all ready for them to go straight to the Sink - there's only a 2% chance of this happening by default. But, uh, be ready for this. Just in case. You can just wing things a bit with random encounters, and a dim-and-vague description of the overall layout, which is awesome, but next time I'm going to use some of the landmarks specifically mentioned in that spread. Probably put together a small pointcrawl of where they've been, options for where to go. 

Also the rules for 'you don't have an O2 tank' in the Sink are on page 31 at the start of the Choke, which totally makes sense because you'd go through there first... unless this happens. So I forgot about that! But it's not a huge deal. They have a tiny amount of O2 and I can always say 'now that you've been down here long enough you feel really woozy' if they lose that O2 for any reason. Anyway, I do love that APoF has a Hellslide straight to the Sink.